Nahid Angha, Ph.D., is an international Muslim Sufi leader, a renowned scholar and a resident of Marin County. Her long CV demonstrates tireless dedication to the transformation of individuals, communities and institutions, ongoing commitment to human rights and interfaith cooperation. She has worked tirelessly for more than twenty-five years to empower others – especially women – through education and leadership training. Her peers and many admirers consider her a visionary transformer.
Sufism, the mysticism of Islam, has many forms and is practiced in many cultures. Traditionally, Sufi communities have been isolated from each other (often by choice) and guided solely by men. Dr. Angha changed all that. In 1983, she and her husband Dr. Ali Kianfar co-founded the Marin-based International Association of Sufism (IAS), to open a line of communication among Sufis from around the world. IAS was the first Sufi organization admitted as an NGO/DPI to the United Nations. Dr. Angha is IAS’ main representative at the UN. IAS earned UNESCO’s “Messenger of Peace” award in 2000.
Through her steadfast leadership, Dr. Angha has paved the way for Muslim women to assume leadership roles within the Sufi community, the greater Islamic community and the international interfaith religious community. She established a Sufi network uniting individual Muslim and non-Muslim communities under one umbrella organization. She was the first woman ever to sit in the inner circle council of the annual Sufi Symposium – a truly revolutionary accomplishment. To recognize and acknowledge the contribution of Sufi women to the advancement of our civilizations, and to empower women, Dr. Angha formed the Sufi Women’s Organization, an international humanitarian, nonsectarian organization working for human rights with a focus on women’s rights. SWO now has chapters in the U.S. and fourteen other countries.
Locally, Dr. Angha has held numerous positions on interfaith councils and was an active member of the Marin Interfaith Council. She established a partnership with Dominican University that resulted in an annual series of “Building Bridges of Peace” lectures. The first lecture brought together members from all the religious communities in the County, as well as the general public, to establish networks for joint community action and social justice. In San Jose, where people of many cultures reside, Dr. Angha formed a domestic violence awareness and prevention program for women in the Middle Eastern community.
Marin County is indeed fortunate to claim Dr. Nahid Angha as one of our own.